The holiday season is over. The accompanying decorations are packed away once more in their accustomed places. I find myself wondering: were the walls really this bare before I put up all those decorations? Stripped of its holiday finery, the hallway looks almost gloomy. I decide to make a trip to the basement to check out my cache of craft materials in hopes of finding inspiration there for making some cheery replacements for the long winter ahead. The first thing I come across is a stack of grapevine wreaths of various sizes. Having played with some digital images of snowmen earlier in the day, I decide to build one myself.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on January 20, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
At the right is the snowman image that I used as a model for this project. Instead of snow, I chose to interpret the model using three basic wreaths of increasing size, from top to bottom, to mirror the balls of snow used to build a classic snowman.
Since I already had three grapevine wreaths of the required sizes on hand (left over from prior projects), I chose to use those. You also have the option of using a wreath base of straw or one of Styrofoam. White Styrofoam bases would mirror snow quite nicely. However, you would need to consider where to hang your finished snowman, since the wreaths wouldn't show up very well on a white or very light-colored wall (as the Styrofoam wreath photo below illustrates).
Tools You'll Need
Wire cutter pliers
The glue gun and the pliers are self-explanatory. A small hammer comes in handy if you have trouble pushing a pin all the way into the base of a straw or Styrofoam wreath. Tap the top of the pin with the hammer to drive it all the way in. The awl comes in handy for making a small hole in the snowman's cap and for inserting dowels for arms. More about that later.
Materials You'll Need
Paddle of wire
Bottom and middle wreaths lashed together
Close-up of lashed wreaths (click on photo to enlarge)
Wire loop hanger at top back of small wreath (click on photo to enlarge)
To build your snowman, assemble the three wreaths on a flat surface, stacking them vertically, so that the
top of the bottom wreath touches the bottom of the middle wreath and the top of the middle wreath touches the bottom of the top wreath. Clear as mud? See the illustration below right. Wreath sizes I used are as follows: Large 16-inch diameter, medium 12-inch diameter, and small 9-inch diameter. With the wire cutter pliers, cut two three-foot lengths of thin, 24-gauge paddle wire. Lash the three wreaths together, starting with the largest. Tuck one length of wire under the top of the bottom wreath and under the bottom of the middle wreath. Pull the wire up to about the center of the middle wreath. Holding that end of the wire in your left hand and the other in your right hand (vice versa for lefties), wind the wire around the two wreaths as illustrated in the photos at the right. Finish by twisting the two ends together tightly.
Repeat the procedure to lash the middle and top wreaths together. It's best to use a wire color that blends with the wreath material. Here I used a rust-colored wire. It's also available in other colors, including dark green and silver.
Now we're ready to install the arms. I used two wooden dowels, 1/2-inch thick and 12 inches long (you can go longer, if you want to expose some of the arm) and painted them with a can of brownish spray paint to coordinate with the wreath color. Wedge the sticks into the left and right sides of the center wreath. You may need to use the awl or a screwdriver to pry the vines apart in order to create a temporary opening for the dowels. If they seem loose and don't stay in the position you want them, use the glue gun to glue them in place. You will need to hold each dowel in place for a minute or so until the glue cools and forms a tight bond. (As an alternative to the dowels, you can substitute small tree- or shrub branches, preferably ones with several small twigs at the tips to simulate fingers.)
Make a small loop of paddle wire around one or more vines behind the top center of the small wreath, twisting the ends together to close the loop (see photo at right). This will be your hanger. If you're using straw or Styrofoam wreaths, you can create a hanger like the one in my recent wreath-making article.
Now for the final touch: Dressing your snowman. January is a great time to shop for snowman attire. I found the matched set of gloves, scarf, and hat in the photo below on sale at a discount store for a very reasonable price. Be creative. Use your imagination. The items don't have to match. To secure the hat, I punched a small hole with the awl in the material at the back. Then I threaded the wire loop through the hole. Once you hang your creation, the loop will keep the cap in place. Slip the middle finger of each glove over the dowels to create the hands. A word of caution here: Depending on the sturdiness of the glove, the rest of the fingers may droop listlessly, leaving only the middle finger erect. I think you get the picture! It makes a delicious little prank, but I finally decided to stuff the other fingers with tissues so as not to offend visitors.
An enthusiastic gardener for over 50 years, my first plant was a potted Ponderosa Lemon tree ordered from a comic book ad at age 15. I still have it, and itís still bearing lemons! My wife and I garden on 3/4 of an acre, both flowers and vegetables. Although our garden is private, it's listed with the Smithsonian Institution in its Archives of American Gardens and is on the National Register of Historic Places. We garden organically and no-till. Our vegetable garden contains a seed bank of vegetables brought to this country from Germany in the mid-1800s. For more info: http://davesgarden.com/community/blogs/m/LarryR/. Photos that appear in my articles without credit are my own.